Nellis Air Force Base Concludes 17-2 Red Flag Aerial Combat Training Exercise

posted in: Military | 2

This past week, the year’s second Red Flag Exercise, known as Red Flag 17-2, came to a close after two intense weeks of training consisting of air to air, air to ground, aerial refueling, and overwatch missions. Missions were flown during the afternoons and evenings, resulting in two mass launches and two mass recoveries of aircraft each day, five days a week.

Red Flag happens four times a year, hosting the world’s elite fighter squadrons from the US Air Force, Navy, Marines, Air National Guard, NATO, and other allied nations. These groups gather to take part in ultra-realistic simulated aerial war games, which all take place at the Nevada Test and Training Range.

One participating aircraft type that really stood out from the crowd was the EA-6B Prowler operated by the US Marine Corps. This will be marked as the last Red Flag participation from any EA-6B squadron, as VMAQ-4 is set to deactivate. The squadron will be retiring its aging Prowler fleet this June, marking the end of an era for a distinguished airframe.

Colorado Air National Guard F-16 passing the moon during Red Flag 17-2EA-6B Prowler returns during Red Flag 17-2

The amount of time and effort that goes into creating these highly realistic combat environments is unprecedented. Even when the jets are not flying, the maintainers are hard at work on the line keeping the jets ready for the next sortie. While the maintainers and pilots do their tasks, the unsung warriors are the dozens of Red Flag mission organizers that help thoroughly brief and debrief hundreds of pilots from the 15 visiting fighter and support squadrons:

Royal Netherlands Air Force

  • F-16 Fighting Falcon

Spanje (Spanish Air Force)

  • ALA 111 – Eurofighter EF-2000
  • ALA 312 – KC-130H Hercules

Air National Guard

  • 100th FS – F-16 Fighting Falcon
  • 120th FS – F-16C Fighting Falcon

US Army

  • 149th AVN – UH-60 Blackhawk

US Air Force – Europe

  • 493d FS – F-15C/D Eagle

US Air Force

  • 16th ACCS – E-8C Joint STARS
  • 55th FS – F-16CJ Fighting Falcon
  • 79th RQS – HC-130 Hercules/HH-60 Blackhawk
  • 960th AACS – E-3 Sentry
  • 91st ARS – KC-135 Stratotanker

US Navy

  • HSC-21 – MH-60S Seahawk
  • VAW-117 – E-2C Hawkeye

US Marine Corps

  • VMAQ-4 – EA-6B Prowler

HC-130 Red Flag 17-2

Beyond the squadrons’ jet fuel-driven training, exercises also draw crowds of a different breed. Hundreds of aviation photographers travel to Nellis each Red Flag for the opportunity to photograph aircraft from squadrons they may never have the chance to see again. Squadrons such as the Spanish, Dutch, and the Lakenheath-based USAFE F-15C/Ds were on every photographer’s must-shoot list. Nothing provides a better opportunity for good photos than the almost always clear Vegas skies mixed with perfect late afternoon light.

Though 17-2 has come to a close, photographers should mark their calendars as Nellis AFB will be hosting two more Red Flag exercises during the 2017 calendar year; the first taking place mid-July (17-3), and the second in mid-August (17-4).

– Anthony Cornelius

Spanish Eurofighter at Red Flag 17-2

F-16C From the 140th wing returning to Nellis AFBColorado Air National Guard F-16s leading a pair of Shaw AFB F-16s

Red Flag 17-2 Night Launch Operations

New Photo Album – Cleveland National Airshow 2016

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 1

Cleveland National Airshow 2016 - E-2 Hawkeye and A-10 Warthog

A new album is now available in our photo gallery! Check it out here: Cleveland National Airshow 2016 – Ryan Sundheimer

The 2016 Cleveland National Airshow, featured the US Navy Blue Angels, USAF F-22 Raptor, USAF F-35 Lightning II, Redline Airshows, the Shockwave jet truck, vintage warbirds, and more.

F-100 Super Sabre Added To 2016 Thunder Over Michigan Lineup

posted in: Airshows | 2

F-100 Super Sabre

The Thunder Over Michigan airshow, which will take place next weekend, has added the rare F-100 Super Sabre to the flying lineup. The jet, owned and flown by Dean “Cutter” Cutshall, is based out of Fort Wayne, IN and has been seen at several Midwest airshows in the last year, including Thunder Over Michigan and EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh. It joins a lineup featuring far more jets than usual for TOM, including the USAF F-22 Raptor and US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet demonstration teams. The Breitling Jet Team will also perform. Aside from the jets, the theme of the show is “Helotown USA”, a celebration of various helicopters including a Russian Mi-24 “Hind” gunship.

Follow AirshowStuff on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and here on our blog for coverage of this year’s show!

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 Photo Albums Uploaded: Over 400 Photos And 50 Videos!

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 0

Hey AirshowStuff fans, all of our full photo albums from EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 have been updated with over 400 amazing photos to browse through! Check out some sample images below, and click the links to view the complete albums!

EAA AirVenture 2015 – Ryan Sundheimer

View full photo album: EAA AirVenture 2015 – Ryan Sundheimer

EAA AirVenture 2015 – Patrick Barron

View full photo album: EAA AirVenture 2015 – Patrick Barron

EAA AirVenture 2015 – Anthony Richards

View full photo album: EAA AirVenture 2015 – Anthony Richards

EAA AirVenture 2015 – David Jacobson

View full photo album: EAA AirVenture 2015 – David Jacobson

Also, be sure to check out our EAA AirVenture 2015 playlist on our Youtube channel, featuring more than 50 videos from throughout the week!

F-22 Raptor Demo Team Going International Again In 2016

posted in: Airshows, Military | 0

USAF F-22 Raptor

The USAF F-22 Raptor demonstration team schedule that was released today (along with the F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration team schedule) contains a few surprises for fans, the biggest of which is the number of international appearances. International appearances are always noteworthy for the F-22 since many fans are so eager to see what is arguably the world’s most advanced fighter. These appearances are also somewhat rare due to budget constraints and limited aircraft availability, not to mention the inherent security requirements for the secretive aircraft.

The 2016 schedule includes four airshows outside the US; Trenton and London in Ontario, Canada, as well as the International Air & Space Fair (FIDAE) in Chile and the famed Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) in the United Kingdom. FIDAE and RIAT both hosted the team in 2010, and a planned RIAT appearance in 2008 was canceled at the last moment due to weather. The team has also performed in South Korea, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates in the last few years.

International trips are often met with frustration in the US airshow community as every weekend away is one less opportunity for US crowds to see it, especially with the schedule limitations in the past few years. However, the aircraft is unquestionably one method for the US to send a message about its military might. Given the current state of the world, it isn’t too surprising that the powers that be would send it to perform on a world stage like FIDAE and RIAT. Hopefully many of the worldwide Raptor fans get a chance to see it!

2016 USAF F-22 Raptor Demo Team Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Military, Schedules | 5

USAF F-22 Raptor

The US Air Force has released the 2016 airshow schedule for the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team. Heritage Flight info will be added later. Will you see the Raptor in 2016? Let us know! Post on our Facebook page and make sure you share pictures after the show!

Also check out the 2016 USAF F-16 Demonstration Team schedule!

2016 Appearance Schedule

March
12-13 – Davis Monthan AFB, AZ

April
9-10 – Lakeland, FL
22-24 – Langley AFB, VA
30-May 1 – MCAS Cherry Point, NC

May
7-8 – Lincoln, NE
11 – Cape Girardeau, MO
14-15 – St. Louis, MO
21-22 – Latrobe PA

June
4-5 – Smyrna, TN
17-19 – Dayton, OH
25-26 – RCF Trenton, Ontario

July
8-10 – RAF Fairford, United Kingdom
23 – Eielson AFB, AK
30-31 – Elmendorf AFB, AK

August
20-21 – Ypsilanti, MI

September
3-4 – Cleveland, OH
10-11 – NAS Oceana, VA
16-18 – London, Ontario
24-25 – Santa Rosa, CA

October
8-9 – San Francisco, CA
15-16 – Baltimore, MD
29-30 – NAS Patuxent River, MD

November
12-13 – Nellis AFB, NV

Photo Albums Uploaded: Cleveland National Airshow and Battle Creek Airshow 2015

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 0

New photo albums have gone up in our photo gallery! Check out a preview of each below and then be sure to follow the links to view the full albums.

Cleveland National Airshow 2015 – Ryan Sundheimer

View full photo album: Cleveland National Airshow 2015 – Ryan Sundheimer
Cleveland National Airshow 2015 – Ryan Sundheimer

Battle Creek Airshow 2015 – Patrick Barron

View full photo album: Battle Creek Airshow 2015 – Patrick Barron
Battle Creek Airshow 2015 – Patrick Barron

[Video] The Best Of Military Aviation – December 2015

posted in: Military, Miscellaneous | 0

Check out this amazing compilation of beautiful military aviation footage from December of 2015. No cheesy music or voiceovers, just raw footage taking you into the action whether it be an aerial refueling tanker or the deck of an aircraft carrier during nighttime operations. This footage has been made available to us by the US Department of Defense, and all video credit goes to those named in the Youtube description. We thank them for this incredible look into what the military does on a daily basis!

The Many Highlights Of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

posted in: Airshows, Event Recap | 0

F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, and P-38 Lightning Under Fireworks - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

Another year, another EAA AirVenture in the books! The week-long event at Wittman Regional Airport annually draws in over 10,000 aircraft, from general aviation to warbirds and modern military aircraft. Many people will camp the entire week, either in the nearby campgrounds or even in a tent right under their plane, because there is simply too much to see and do for just a weekend. For aviation enthusiasts young and old, AirVenture is the biggest event of the year.

Skip Stewart - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015USAF Thunderbirds T-38 Talon - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

This year’s event stuck out to many as one of the best in recent years, thanks to the number and magnitude of highlights. The statistics certainly back up this notion; total attendance was approximately 550,000, up two percent from last year. Even more than that, there was a noticeable increase in both aircraft attendance and activity. At one point, only one parking spot was left in the Fightertown section!

With so much going on, let’s dive into some of this year’s highlights!

Airbus’s New A350 XWB

On Monday, a flight-test version of the Airbus A350 XWB (Extra-Wide-Body) gave an impressive display of the aircraft’s flight capabilities. Its tight turns, steep banks, and high rate of climb had spectators on their feet. After its performance, the aircraft was towed to Boeing Plaza for tours of the interior. On Wednesday, it was towed out of the plaza and down to the end of the runway where it gave a second demonstration before returning home. The A350 XWB can carry over 300 passengers nearly 8,000 nautical miles, and is already in service by Qatar Airways and Vietnam Airlines.

Airbus A350 - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015Airbus A350 - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

B-52 in Boeing Plaza

On the Friday before the show, many of the runway lights were taken down to accommodate one of the largest aircraft ever to land at Wittman Regional Airport: the B-52 Stratofortress. While it did not fly in the show, this massive bomber took up a big chunk of space in Boeing Plaza throughout the week, where the pilots and crew gave talks, answered questions, and sold some squadron merchandise. Fun fact: the B-52 is part of the 343rd Bomber Squadron out of Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. This is, coincidentally, the same location as EAA Chapter 343. As a result of this coincidence, special 343 patches commemorating both the base and the chapter were sold in limited supply.

B-52 Stratofortress and B-29 Superfortress - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

The crew even got into the AirVenture spirit by registering the aircraft as a home-built with over 14,000 flight hours and asking for it to be judged. As a result, the B-52 won a special award!

Unfortunately the aircraft did not fly during the event because of the logistics of getting it back to the runway. However, we were there on the following Monday and got the best seat in the house for its departure.

Honoring the Legacy of Burt Rutan

This year, Burt Rutan returned to AirVenture to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his VariEze aircraft design (which first flew in May of 1975). Rutan is famous for his innovative aircraft concepts, such as the use of canards on various general aviation aircraft and also for perhaps his most famous milestone: SpaceShipOne. On Monday, a rare Beechcraft Starship made a special airshow arrival and the next day it joined with various other Rutan designs for a tribute during the show. Tuesday night, the Theater in the Woods featured ‘Garage-to-Garage’, a special presentation that highlighted Rutan’s legacy; 46 different aircraft designs with over 1,000 aircraft in service.

Burt Rutan Tribute - Beechcraft Starship - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015Burt Rutan Tribute - Boomerang - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

Arrival of the F-35 Lightning II

While the USMC version of the F-35 has been giving mini-demonstrations throughout the year at military airshows, AirVenture 2015 marked the first appearance of an F-35 Lightning II at a civilian show. Early Wednesday afternoon, two USAF F-35s from Eglin Air Force Base performed some low approaches before landing, unfortunately without afterburner. One of the pair was soon towed over to Boeing Plaza; setting up a rare opportunity to see it next to not only an F-22 Raptor, but a P-38 Lightning as well! Both stealth jets were kept under tight security with armed guards who kept an eye on the swarms of people surrounding them and taking pictures.

USAF F-35 Lightning II - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015USAF F-35 Lightning II - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

F-100 Super Sabre and F-4 Phantom

These two Vietnam-era jets created their own thunder in the later half of the week. The F-100, currently the only one of its kind flying, makes precious few airshow appearances and had never graced the Oshkosh skies before. Pilot and owner Dean “Cutter” Cutshall flew it in from Fort Wayne, IN and performed twice during the show. The first time was during the Friday warbird show when it flew with the Warbird Heritage Foundation’s A-4 Skyhawk and Jeff Kaney’s MiG-17 Fresco in the “Vietnam jets” segment. The real show, however, was the twilight performance just before sunset on Saturday night. The F-100 is known for its primitive one-stage afterburner that POPS very loudly when first engaged, and Cutter knows just how to show it off for the crowd. In the dim evening sky, the flame trailing the aircraft was even more visible than usual and had aviation fans drooling.

F-100 Super Sabre - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015F-100 Super Sabre - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

The USAF F-4 Phantom II had a similar showing at AirVenture, performing a couple times as well as flying during the Saturday twilight show. This particular F-4 has been modified to fly as an unmanned target drone, making its proper designation QF-4. Several of these QF-4s were given special commemorative paint schemes in recent years and taken to airshows to perform in Heritage Flights alongside current fighters. Sadly many of even the specially painted F-4s have been shot down now as the QF-4 program comes to an end and the similar QF-16 program begins. This, combined with the recent budget cuts, meant that the pilots were not Heritage Flight qualified this year, and so they were only able to perform a solo mini-demonstration. Still, an F-4 twilight demo would be a highlight of any show. Oshkosh may very well prove to be the final public appearance of a military Phantom; if so, it went out in grand style.

USAF F-4 Phantom II - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015USAF F-4 Phantom II - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

Salute to Veterans

Each year, EAA AirVenture hosts an Old Glory Honor Flight, which flies veterans to Washington DC to visit the memorials built in their honor. This year, the flight honored veterans from the Vietnam War. As the American Airlines MD-80 carrying them returned to show center at the conclusion of their special day, it was greeted with a water cannon salute from a pair of firetrucks. A large crowd on onlookers cheered the arrival, and the crowd shifted to the main stage in Boeing Plaza for a ceremony followed by a performance by the Lt. Dan Band (featuring Gary Sinise, best known for his role as Lt. Dan in the movie Forrest Gump). Several Vietnam-era aircraft, including the F-4 Phantom, F-100 Super Sabre, A-4 Skyhawk, OV-10 Mohawk, and A-1 Skyraider were arranged to ring the concert, making the moment even more special.

Vietnam Veterans Tribute - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

Vietnam Veterans Tribute - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015Vietnam Veterans Honor Flight - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

Record-Breaking Sky-Dive Attempt

The Golden Knights will often reference a “traffic jam in the sky” when several of their jumpers are coming in to land, but even their routine is nothing compared to the massive sky-diving attempts that were performed Wednesday and Friday during AirVenture. In an attempt to set the sequential mega-formation world record, 108 skydivers from around the world were divided among 5 jump aircraft. After jumping from 20,000 feet, the group had only 60 seconds to join up and form five different formations before splitting apart. As the jumpers opened their parachutes simultaneously, the sky exploded with canopies; so many that it was clearly audible on the ground thousands of feet below! Although the group made 3 different attempts at the record, they were not successful in the eyes of the judges. However, they did end up setting a Wisconsin state record for largest skydiving formation!

Rare Bombers: B-29 Superfortress and PB4Y-2 Privateer

This year’s show featured the world’s only flying B-29 Superfortress and PB4Y-2 Privateer. Although the B-29 “Fifi” has been in Oshkosh several times in the last few years, it was the first visit for the all silver Privateer. Both flew during the week, making simulated bombing runs with the help of the Tora Bomb Squad pyrotechnics team on the ground. “Fifi” also operated out of Appleton for part of the week, selling rides to passengers alongside EAA’s B-17 Flying Fortress “Aluminum Overcast”.

PB4Y-2 Privateer - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015B-29 Superfortress "Fifi" - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

Roar of the Merlins

Thursday was the day of the legendary Merlin engine. The warbird portion of the show marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain by having the Avro Lancaster and de Havilland Mosquito, both powered by Merlins, fly together along with a replica Spitfire. The Lancaster and Mosquito are both one of only two of their type left flying in the world. A second Mosquito was on static display, however it is part of the EAA Museum located on the airport and does not fly. Still, the opportunity to see two side by side was incredible!

Avro Lancaster - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015de Havilland Mosquitos - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

A short time later, no less than 14 P-51 Mustangs taxied out. As they approached the runway, they stopped to perform simultaneous run-ups right in front of the crowd. Talk about goosebumps. They soon launched, mostly in pairs, and the formation-rated pilots in the group joined in three elements of four aircraft to provide high cover before diving in for individual high speed passes. Add it up and that’s twenty Merlins singing together in the skies over Oshkosh!

P-51 Mustangs - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015P-51 Mustangs - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

Same Old AirVenture

Each year EAA AirVenture offers something new; something even fans who have been going for the last 35 years haven’t seen before. But at the same time, EAA AirVenture remains fundamentally the same; a massive gathering of aviation enthusiasts and fans with an unmatched feeling of camaraderie that draws people back every year. From the 10,000+ aircraft that fly in to the 1,000+ forums/workshops and the 800+ exhibitors, AirVenture will always be the world’s biggest aviation destination and that is a worthy highlight in its own right.

USAF F-22 Raptor and Fireworks - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015P-51 Mustang - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

Mass Warbird Formations - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

MiG-17 Fresco - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015USAF Heritage Flight - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015
The 4ce - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015Texas Flying Legends B-25 Mitchell and Zero - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015

Photo Albums Uploaded: Rockford Airfest 2015

posted in: Airshows, AirshowStuff, Event Recap | 0

Two new photo albums have gone up in our photo gallery! Check out a preview of each below and then be sure to follow the links to view the full albums.

Rockford Airfest 2015 – Patrick Barron

View full photo album: Rockford Airfest 2015 – Patrick Barron
US Navy Blue Angels Wall of Fire - Rockford Airfest 2015

Rockford Airfest 2015 – Ryan Sundheimer

View full photo album: Rockford Airfest 2015 – Ryan Sundheimer
US Navy Blue Angels - Rockford Airfest 2015

1 2